Posts Tagged ‘international human rights’

October 31 roundup

  • Attempts to ban digital contraband are often fated to be both intrusive and futile [J.D. Tuccille]
  • “The Gender Pay Gap: Why We Fight The Narrative” [Ryan Bourne, Cato]
  • “He’s Back! Steven Wise’s Nonhuman Rights Project Seeks Habeas Corpus For An Elephant” [Ted Folkman, Letters Blogatory, Wise’s previous go and generally]
  • Regulatory battles between hotel industry and AirBnB spread across U.S. [Robert McCartney, Washington Post]
  • Concept of international human rights “has been swept into a broad river of campaigns for social justice, global economic development, environmental protection, multiculturalism, tolerance, access to water and sanitation, and more” and diluted in the process [James Kirchick, Commentary on new Aaron Rhodes book The Debasement of Human Rights: How Politics Sabotage the Ideal of Freedom; Cato forum from May with Rhodes, Kirchick, Roger Pilon, and Ian Vasquez; Rhodes interview with John Couretas and Caroline Roberts, Acton Institute]
  • “Pro-tip from the Third Circuit for attorneys requesting fees: Don’t have a single-spaced, 6- to 8-point font, 44-page fee petition including ‘hundreds of inappropriate, unethical entries that would likely be illegal if billed to a client.’ You might find yourself facing no fees, a sanction, and a referral to the attorney disciplinary board.” [John K. Ross, IJ Short Circuit, on Young v. Smith]

September 27 roundup

August 22 roundup

Canada follows a UN lead on indigenous rights

The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has moved to support bringing Canada’s laws into line with the terms of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, something predecessor administrations had resisted. The result is likely to involve major changes to the current rights and obligations of Canadians [Matt Pollard, Opinio Juris; earlier on the Declaration here and here, and related here, here and here]

Distantly related, perhaps: a symposium on “Global Justice for Indigenous Languages” [Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights]

Claim: “international human rights” requires gun bans

So many power grabs now get packed into an international human rights mold: here come claims that IHR requires laws aimed at restricting private access to guns in the U.S. [Leila Nadya Sadat and Madaline George on Harris Institute initiative at Washington U. Law; Patricia Illingworth; Jeremiah Ho] I wrote about the proliferation of international human rights claims in my 2011 book Schools for Misrule, and this site has previously covered efforts to invoke international human rights law against such practices as cultural appropriation, financial privacy and national fiscal austerity, gender-stereotypical speech, liberalization of labor markets, making city dwellers pay for water, failure to return land to long-displaced Indian tribes, disconnecting people from Internet service, lack of hate speech laws (and more and also see), non-recognition of a right to health care, Stand Your Ground rules on self-defense, videogames about war and depiction of rights violations in popular entertainment, evicting homeless encampments, “atrocity speech,” lack of affordable-housing programs, factory livestock farming, and foundling baby boxes. On the gun angle, see also the controversy over the small arms treaty.

April 4 roundup

Free speech roundup

“Cultural appropriation: Make it illegal worldwide, Indigenous advocates say”

“Indigenous advocates from around the world are calling on a UN committee to ban the appropriation of Indigenous cultures — and to do it quickly….Since it began in 2001, the committee [a “specialized international committee within the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations agency”] has been working on creating and finishing three pieces of international law that would expand intellectual-property regulations to protect things like Indigenous designs, dances, words and traditional medicines.” [CBC/Yahoo]

Explains the WIPO site: “Traditional cultural expressions (TCEs), also called ‘expressions of folklore’, may include music, dance, art, designs, names, signs and symbols, performances, ceremonies, architectural forms, handicrafts and narratives, or many other artistic or cultural expressions.” Also under consideration are rules for “genetic resources” such as seeds, and folk or traditional knowledge.

One wonders how the novel intellectual property regime being contemplated will diverge from earlier, longstanding IP regimes on such questions as which products of the human mind are subject to protection, how long property rights in cultural expression are to persist after original creation and dissemination, and when if ever creative expressions originating with individuals, whether recently or generations ago, may (or must) have their rights assigned to national or ethnic collectives claiming to represent them. Presumably it will be difficult to limit the idea of collective property rights in folkloric expression to indigenous or tribal groups only, and other national groups and ethnicities, including the economically advanced, will also get in line to stake future claims.

Ed Krayewski, writing at Reason, points out that the project could have a potentially welcome consequences if it serves to impede the patenting by sophisticated Western concerns of medicines that were already in traditional usage, and likewise for the copyrighting of traditional designs and the like. Of course, intellectual property systems already are not generally supposed to confer IP rights on knowledge, uses, or expressions that were in use or known about before the claimant’s purported act of creativity, but national IP systems may not always do a good job of recognizing prior art, use, or knowledge.

For the most part, however, this is an effort to restrict the public domain and the creative and expressive liberties it brings with it. Note that an American law professor, formerly United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, is helping push it; earlier on Prof. James Anaya, now dean at Colorado, here.

Medical roundup

  • “No, Donating Your Leftover Tissue To Research Is Not Like Letting Someone Rifle Through Your Phone” [Michelle Meyer answers “Henrietta Lacks” author Rebecca Skloot; related, Richard Epstein/Hoover]
  • “Women Should Not Have to Visit a Doctor for Birth Control” [Jeffrey Singer, Time/Cato]
  • Lawyer ads can scare TV viewers into discontinuing medically indicated therapies. But is more regulation the right answer? [reform group Sick of Lawsuits]
  • Johnson & Johnson followed federal government’s own advice on labeling a drug, and got slammed by a jury in consequence [WSJ editorial]
  • U.S. opinion resistant to ratifying treaties that would create an international-law right to health care, so how about smuggling it in via congressional/executive agreement? [Nicholas Diamond, Harvard “Bill of Health”]
  • Denmark, like other Scandinavian countries and New Zealand, has replaced malpractice suits with iatrogenic injury compensation scheme [Pro Publica]
  • Has liberalized patient access to opioids been a net harm? Study suggests no [Tyler Cowen]